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October 27, 2016: Vintage Italian Moto Museum; For the love of cars.

October 27, 2016: Vintage Italian Moto Museum;
For the love of cars.

By Randy Kroeker.

Joe Cotroneo was born and raised on Preston Street before moving to western Kitchissippi (Dovercourt) in the 1970s with his wife Rose. Following 20 years as an electrical contractor, Joe started getting restless and tired of working in the cold. One evening he looked over at his Irish wife, born Rosemary Casey McLewin, and said, “You’re Irish, I’m Italian, what about we put the two ideas together and do an Italian version of an Irish Pub?” She said he was crazy. What followed was the name “Pub Italia” and Joe’s patented shamrock with the green, red and white Italian flag colours. His restaurant has been operating since 1994. But Joe has other pursuits as well.

The Vintage Italian Moto Museum is an informal private collection of 20 antique Italian vehicles and 50 motorcycles and memorabilia housed in a workshop just west of the O-Train, close to Little Italy. Joe Cotroneo is its founder. He held an open house at the Museum on October 2nd and was gracious enough to answer some questions.

NW: What got you into this?
JC:  I look at an automobile, I like the mechanics, but I see them as a piece of art. I am passionate about early industrial design. Italians were the first to put form to function. When I buy something, I like to have the “libretto” or owners booklet, and follow its provenance through various countries. I get most of my stuff from a California collector. The west coast has always been passionate about Italian design.

NW: What is your first car, your favourite car?
JC:  My first was an Alfa Romeo Spider 35 years ago but I started seriously collecting 25 years ago. I sold my Alfa Romeo when I was raising money to start my restaurant but soon after I bought a Fiat 500 truck. My current favourite would be my 1972 Lancia Fulvia. They were great rally cars. I just bought some motorcycles, some original Lambrettas this summer. I found an Italian tractor before that by chance that was sitting in a field in Oxford Mills.

NW: Who does the mechanical work?
JC: My friend used to have a shop down the street. I tinker but now I like to buy things in pretty good shape. I no longer bother with restoration. The cars all work but the bikes are now just for display because my wife is worried I am going to kill myself driving one of the old motorcycles with sticky throttles.

NW: Any plans for a permanent, more formal museum open to the public?
JC: I call it the Vintage Italian Moto Museum unofficially. As you can see, I need three times more space. I would love to open something on Preston Street or incorporate it as part of a restaurant. Maybe have an educational aspect for the kids. We’ll see.

Although Joe’s Italian Moto Museum is not yet formally open to the public, folks wishing to visit can call the Pub Italia at 613-232-2326 and leave a number at which Joe can reach them to arrange a visit.

Man standing beside very small car and other gasoline powered transports.

Here’s Joe.

Photo Caption: Joe Cotroneo with some of his collection of vintage Italian vehicles. Joe’s informal Italian Moto Museum is one of several unsung treasures to be found in west end neighbourhoods. Photo by Randy Kroeker.

For more photos of the Italian Moto Museum, see our web extras below .

shamrock in Italian colours inscribed Vintage Italian Moto Museum

Sign of Luck

Photo Caption: When it opens to the public look for the sign. Photo by Randy Kroeker.

view from back of bright packed garage museum looking to the opendoor where many people stand.

A real collection.

Photo Caption: A Very full garage of small treasures. Photo by Randy Kroeker.

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